Best of both worlds

WordPress Migrations

As a well known WordPress hosts, we are often asked to migrate sites from WordPress.com to self-hosted wordpress. Thanks to the tools available this is a painless process, at least to copy the posts and pages. But sometimes clients want to keep the site looking exactly the same and this is not always straightforward.

WordPress.com runs on a pretty standard WordPress platform, but it offers it’s users a number of themes and plugins built in (you cannot install your own choice of theme or plugin in WordPress.com – hence the reason websites outgrow WordPress.com)

So migrating a theme or plugin functionality can be an involved process. So far I’ve found the themes that are available to WordPress.com users have an equivalent version available for hosted WordPress at wordpress.org/themes, sothis it not normally too much of a problem – just re-adding the theme specific options.

However the plugin functionality –  which users may not even realise are plugins, so well integrated are they in the WordPress.com experience – is more difficult to move.

Jetpack to the rescue!

Jetpack web page
Jetpack

This is where Jetpack comes into play. Jetpack is a plugin collection maintained by WordPress that replicates the functionality of WordPress.com. For migrations from WordPress, nothing is copied across so each function will have to be setup from scratch, and the admin usage is often different to  how users remember it in WordPress.com. We recently migrated www.cfliteraryawards.org.uk to our WordPress hosting and this involved replicating various functions that without Jetpack would have been a major headache.

WordPress Gallery Plugin

The other difficulty with using JetPack is that it is so big! It’s like a Swiss army knife of plugins, and sometimes it’s only one feature you want to replicate. In www.geolida.co.uk, we wanted to jazz up the image galleries, and the different sized tiles gallery style appealed. This style is also known as Masonry style. We also wanted the existing ease of gallery use built into WordPress to continue – many of the WordPress gallery plugins use a separate management area which we thought would be confusing to the site owner.

Jetpack holds the answer to this with Tiled Galleries. However, this was the only function of JetPack that we wanted to add to the site – not the 27 other functions! We therefore turned to this plugin, which is just did the Tiled Galleries and nothing else. This is the same code as used in Jetpack, just extracted and packaged as a single function plugin. All WordPress plugins listed on the WordPress site are GPL licences which allows and encourages reuse of code. This worked seamlessly and our client was very pleased with the result:

The only drawback is the possibility that the person who released this cut-down version of Jetpack will give up maintaining it – Jetpack is updated every now and again and as with all WordPress plugins it’s very important to kee them up to date – bad things can happen otherwise!

2020Media’s managed WordPress service is used by many of our WordPress hosting customers so they have peace of mind that their website remains safe and secure at all times.

Protect your WordPress website

The WordPress brute-force login attacks show little sign of abating and we recommend all users ensure their sites are secured against this attack.

The Attack

Since spring 2013, hackers have been calling the WordPress login url with “standard” usernames (like ‘admin’) and thousands of passwords.  In our experience nearly all users have ‘admin’ as a user account so this makes them especially vulnerable.

The Solution

Well – not a solution exactly but it should protect your site being hacked.

The solution we propose is to change your username to something only you know about. If you are creating a new WordPress site, don’t use the default ‘admin’. Choose a new username.

If you have an existing site, you can’t simply delete the user ‘admin’ – therefore there are lot’s of free plugins around to change it instead. The one we’ve been using is called ‘Username Changer’. Install it, activate it, change your username and then remove it.  It’s a one off job.

2020Media can help

Additionally 2020Media would like to  see these WordPress attacks stop – realistically this is not going to happen – it’s a distributed attack from botnets, and things will change only when it’s not worth the hackers while any more.

2020Media are happy to change your login username for you plus we can add additional server-side security which will mitigate the denial-of-service aspects of the attack.

Managed WordPress

The Managed WordPress service from 2020Media is something anyone not logging in to their WordPress site on a weekly basis should seriously consider. Even if you do, get peace of mind as updates to WordPress, Themes and plugins are done for you. Read more

Greatest WordPress Plugins

Themes that do more

The WordPress.org website includes an online directory of thousands of completely free themes. WordPress insists on GPL licensing which also means these themes are free to modify to your own custom design if you wish.

There are also many many sites offering paid for themes. The quality is generally high and if you are after something that gives your site instant wow appeal, it can be worth spending a few pounds on a theme. Expect to pay USD $35- USD $95 (GBP £20 – GBP £60) for a theme.

This post is about WordPress themes that do more than just change the appearance of your site. We’re looking at themes that include specific functionality. This often means the theme comes with extra plugins to perform these roles.

Business Directory

The DirectoryPress WordPress theme is a complete theme and plugin. Cost  is USD $79. The theme includes maps, payment gateways for paid directory listings and around 20 different template designs.

Business Directory for WordPress is a plugin only. It allows simple text based listing, submitted by the unregistered users. There’s no editing facility. Cost is free although a suggested donation of USD $5 is requested by the author to help fund further development.

WP Business Directory Manager is a plugin only. It supports user registration, paid placements (at extra cost to the plugin creator). It allows images in the listings. The plugin is free and you can see a live example at www.hairdressing.co.uk

Jobs

9-to-5 theme. This theme from a paid theme provider costs USD $35 and includes both a  job board theme and the listing plugins. Features include ajax filtering, google maps, and the ability to take payments via paypal for paid listings.

Jobroller is another paid theme. It includes separate portals & tools for both job seekers and employers, has built-in payment gateway support and a has a CV section. Cost is USD $99.

Job Manager is a plugin only. It’s designed for a single company’s job listing and includes functions to take online applications and manage the interview process. It’s free and has been downloaded over 30,000 times from WordPress.

Classifieds

Sofa OpnPress is a paid theme that styles itself “WP Yellow Pages”. It offers front-end editing for users, paid or free listings mode, a voting system, and supports localisation. Cost is USD $35.

Another WordPress Classifieds Plugin is a well established free plugin (2 years old) and boasts upwards of 70,000 downloads from WordPress. It allows for paid or free ads, moderation, notifications and social integration. A number of premium (paid-for) modules are available which add things like featured listings, fee per category and google checkout integration.

wp-classified is a simpler option that adds a simple information & advertising blackboard or classified page in to your wordpress site. The plugin is free. A few comments in the forum indicate that some users find the documentation lacking.

Charity

Agency Theme is a paid theme that includes a nice “donation bar” on the home page. Ideal for fund raising towards a target, the donation bar shows progress towards the specified amount features a prominent donation link. Cost of this theme is USD $95. A number of plugins that offer a similar feature can be found on WordPress.

10 themes for non-profits. Not a theme or plugin itself, this post reviews 10 beautiful themes designed with charity websites in mind.

Donate Plus is  a free WordPress plugin with PayPal integration. The plugin contains lots of options for creating a donation form on your site, and includes a recognition function for displaying donations and comments. In function it’s similar to Just Giving, though does not include any Gift Aid functionality.

Conclusion

We’ve chosen just 4 categories here but there are dozens if not hundreds of customised themes and plugins for just about any specific function you might care to imagine (let us know in the comments). Costings shown above were correct at the time of writing but are likely to change in the medium-long term. Sometimes you may need to pay for the feature you want, but compared to the cost of bespoke development it’s likely to a be fraction of the cost. Many of the developers actively encourage customisation work so even if the plugin or theme doesn’t do quite what you want, it’s very well worth contacting the provider to ask if they will make a change for you.

About Us

2020Media is an established UK hosting provider. We offer WordPress hosting with expert technical assistance. Our service includes free migration from other hosts or WordPress.com and plenty of free help getting your site up and running. Hosting plans start at £45+vat/year.

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WordPress Plugins

Free content management system WordPress can be extended very quickly and easily by installing plugins. These can do just about anything thanks to the way WordPress’s framework is designed, but here’s a list of the top 10 most popular free plugins and what they do.

  1. Akismet: Keep your comments free of spam.
  2. All in One SEO Pack: Transforms your WordPress site into a search engine magnet.
  3. Google XML Sitemaps: You want Google to index your site right? You need this plugin.
  4. Contact Form 7: Adds a very configurable contact form to your site.
  5. NextGEN Gallery: A image gallery option with optional Flash slideshow
  6. WordPress.com Stats: Get an insight into your visitors
  7. AddToAny: Share/Bookmark/Email Button: The web is now social. Is your website?
  8. Google Analyticator: Get an insight into your visitors using Google’s free service.
  9. WP-PageNavi: A more advanced paging navigation for sites with lots of pages.
  10. WPtouch iPhone Theme: automatically transforms your WordPress blog into an iPhone application-style theme
plugins menu
Plugins

This list was compiled by Vladimir Prelovac, and one of the criteria was that the plugin must have been updated in the last year to be included – so you know these are being supported. Any of the above plugins can be installed from within your WordPress site, just search for it’s name in the Plugins section.

2020Media offers free installation of WordPress on any of its hosting plans, and our team is delighted to talk to users of WordPress about any aspect of its use.